September 28, 2011
Touring tires: balancing consumer, OE demands
Tiremakers offer fuel efficiency and driving comfort in this growing tire segment
By: Bob Bissler
The Hankook Optimo H426 is original equipment on the 2011 Ford Explorer, Hyundai Sonata, Kia Sportage and VW Passat.
Americans love to take a drive. Because the tires consumers travel on are important to the quality of the ride, there has been an increasing demand for what has become known as the touring tire.
The touring tire segment features tires that provide maximum ride comfort with excellent handling characteristics. It also is a segment that has evolved into a very specialized type of tire category.
Performance touring tires mirror the current high- and ultra-high performance (UHP) summer lines available. Touring tires are similar to UHP tires in both size applications and performance ratings. These tire lines add ride comfort and mileage life to these size applications.
Touring tires combine a performance tire’s low-profile handling with a premium tire’s softer ride. They also have all-season capabilities. This combination has led to touring tires being referred to as performance touring tires.
The OE vehicle market continues to generate an increase in H- and V-speed-rated fitments. As a result, the replacement touring tire segment is seeing parallel growth in the H- and V-speed-rated segments.
A focus on price also has an effect on this segment. With today’s high tire prices, many consumers look more at price than speed ratings when buying touring tires. Retailers, in turn, are going to sell what they currently have in stock, without worrying about the right speed rating for a specific vehicle. So a focus on price also changes the touring segment.
As the consumer concept of a “comfort” tire continues to evolve, manufacturers rise to meet the demand. Consumers in this segment demand more from their tires and want comfort, handling and all-season capability.
What’s new in touring tires?
What are the tires that manufacturers are developing to meet consumer demands? Manufacturers are challenged not only by consumers, but also OE demands and technological advances. Last month we covered tires from manufacturers ranging from Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC through the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. This month we outline touring tires from tiremakers ranging from GITI Tire (USA) Ltd. to Yokohama Tire Corp.
GT Radial Champiro 228
The GT Radial Champiro 228 from GITI Tire (USA) Ltd. is a performance touring tire with a Nanotek silica compound that contributes to reduced rolling resistance and strong grip in wet and dry conditions. Produced with non-aromatic oils, a greener manufacturing process, the tire has four wide circumferential grooves to aid in efficient water evacuation and good wet performance. Extended shoulder grooves contribute to excellent cornering, the company says. Backed by an 80,000-mile limited tread wear warranty, the GT Radial Champiro 228 is available in 15 sizes (50 to 65 series) for 16- and 17-inch wheels. It is offered in H- and V-speed ratings for a wide range of performance touring vehicles.
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